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The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers Spiral-bound – March 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald Maass heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 100 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas. He is a past president of the Association of Authors Representatives, Inc., and is the author of several books.
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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Spi edition (March 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582979901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582979908
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donald Maass is the author of more than 16 novels. He now works as a literary agent, representing dozens of novelists in the SF, fantasy, crime, mystery, romance and thriller categories. He speaks at writer's conferences throughout the country and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By L. Franklin on April 29, 2011
Format: Spiral-bound
As far as celebrity literary agents go, Donald Maass is number one. His agency is one of the most in-demand groups in the business. He's a highly sought-after speaker, teacher, and authority in the industry. His writing craft book, Writing the Breakout Novel, is on almost every required reading list for authors I have ever seen. Basically, this guy has some credentials. So when Writer's Digest contacted me to review his latest book, The Breakout Novelist, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the final verdict for me was more mixed than I would have liked.

The Good: Maass knows what he's talking about. He's guided best-selling careers for decades, and that's the subject matter of this book (as opposed to simply writing a great novel, he's discussing having a great novel-writing career). The last two sections of the book, titled "Achieving Breakout Greatness" and "Building a Breakout Career," are great. The practical tools after parts one and two are worth the price of admission alone. While these tools are available for free download (and Maass tweets them weekly on Twitter), you really need to read the rest of the book to know how to best use them. There is a wealth of valuable information contained here.

The Bad: I barely made it to the good stuff because of the first third of the book. I almost gave up. That is not to say there's not some good information in the first part of the book. I can't completely put my finger on the reason for this. Had I read it all before? Perhaps. Additionally, the examples are stale, though not quite old enough to be considered classics. Great fiction is great fiction, regardless of era, but when you're talking about being a novelist NOW in today's publishing world, I don't find it very helpful to use an example from 1946. That could just be me.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. Murray VINE VOICE on March 23, 2011
Format: Spiral-bound
I loved Donald Maass' last book, Writing the Breakout Novel, and the title of this new one intrigued me. How timely, with the empowerment of writers by self-publishing (more on Maass' thoughts on self-pubs later) and digital book sales blowing past traditional offerings. Data shows a slew of new authors emboldened by a successful novel (success being a relative word) who want a career in writing. I wanted Maass' thoughts on the viability of that as well as how to do it.

For those of you who don't know Donald Maass, he is a veteran agent, currently the head of the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 100 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas. By his own count, he receives annually about 7500 query letters, partial manuscripts, and completed novels-99.9% of which disappoint him. This amazing statistic must be the inspiration behind his new book. The authors, he declares, are not incompetent, merely not in command of their technique. This book provides the tools to change that.

It's organized into three parts:

1. Mastering Breakout Basics-how-to-write fundamentals, including exercises for the wanna-be breakout novelist. That's right, homework. There are no shortcuts, but there are quicker ways to do it and he shares those.
2. Achieving Breakout Greatness-factors that vault an author to success. This includes a singular voice, tension all the time, hyper-reality, scenes that can't be cut. If you think you know those concepts, you don't know. Maass even includes a section on how to write humor (Chapter 16), explaining how to ban banal with his `methods of mirth'-like hyperbole, ironic juxtaposition, being extremely literal, and more.
3.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia E. Downes VINE VOICE on February 24, 2011
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I was so excited to get my copy of The Breakout Novelist yesterday. I have two Donald Maass' books and LOVE them both. But I was a bit disappointed with this one. Not the content; the format, and for that, I gave it only 4 stars. The problem: It has VERY SMALL print (probably 10 pt). I wish the publisher had produced a notebook-size book with larger type. I would have gladly paid the extra cost. As it is, I'm not sure if I'll be able to use this book very much. If you have 20/20 vision, it won't be a problem, but for those of us with "older" eyes, it sure makes it difficult.

The book itself includes information from his previous books: Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, The Fire in Fiction, and The Career Novelist, as well as some updated content. I've been working in Writing the Breakout Novel and have gotten further in my novel writing than I have with any other resource.

Donald Maass is a wonderful teacher, both in his books and in person (I got to hear him at a writer's conference in NYC this year). The Breakout Novelist is broken down into three parts:

Part One is Mastering Breakout Basics. It includes information on premise, stakes, time/place, characters, plot, subplots, pace, endings, advanced plot structure, and theme.

Part Two is Achieving Breakout Greatness: This chapter includes protagonists vs heroes, characters who matter, scenes that can't be cut, the world of the novel, a singular voice, making the impossible real, hyper-reality, tension all the time, and the fire in fiction.

Part Three is Building a Breakout Career: This chapter includes information on publishing: myth vs.
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